The Lima Wrap-Up

2015.Sep.01 Tuesday · 0 comments

in Restaurants

Given the last two exceeding long posts, albeit focused on tasting menus, let’s just wrap this up and return to our regular scheduled programming. It’s still going to be long, because I’m covering four restaurants, but no more tasting menus… promise.

Wayback… Henry’s and my first visit to Lima together, in 2007, and back in touch with someone I knew in high school. Since that time we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, meeting up in NYC for a bite one day, keeping in touch online, and, by pure chance, it turned out he had popped down to Lima for a couple of days during the same time I was there this time around. So, we met up for lunch at one of his favorite spots, El Mercado. Bustling, big, open grill, trendy, noisy. Part of the restaurant group of Rafael, which I really wasn’t fond of when I visited last year. Far, far better experience here. Excellent ceviche, a tasty, warm causa chiclayana, great grilled octopus, and a decent bowl of hueveras (fried fish roe). Great food, decent service given how busy it was. I’d go back.

I’d hoped to be able to spend a little time, as I mentioned in the last post, in the kitchen at Central, but I don’t think my friend Gregg ever got an answer back from chef Virgilio. And, unfortunately for my tastebuds, but probably not for my waistline, there were simply no reservations to be had in the dining room there at last minute (he said the first available spot was mid-October – that’s what getting voted #1 does for you I guess). But, he got me a small table in the bar, only no option to do the tasting menu there, nor even order from the regular menu – just a short bar food menu. Mildly disappointing, but at the same time, given the big lunch (see above), it turned out that two small plates was about all I could handle anyway – a scallop tartare with “charela” (no idea, and my waiter didn’t have a clue either) and root “peelings” – chips; and a warm paiche ceviche. Both tasty, though not really in the same vein of the food in the dining room. Ah well, maybe one day. Would have liked to at least meet the chef, say hi, all that, but at most he passed through the bar for a moment at one point.

A morning wander through Miraflores and San Isidro – the only thing of interest other than some nice scenery along the water was the Mercado San Isidro. Much smaller and a bit more limited in selection than the Surquillo markets, and a bit more modern/upscale feeling, but a pleasant visit. There was even a group of foodies on a tour through it with a local guide.

Way, way back (again), on our first visit to Bardot, we’d met and talked a little with chef Dennys Yupanqui. He long ago moved on to various projects in various locales outside of Argentina. We’ve kept in a sort of on and off touch – more just “liking” each other’s posts on Facebook and such. When I suddenly discovered I had an entire extra day in Lima (my bad – I thought I’d booked a noon flight back to BA, but it turned out it was a midnight flight – damn I wish all those sites used a 24-hour clock, 12am just didn’t register as midnight, what can I say? – my hotel was great about it, giving me a 6pm late checkout with no charge), it meant two more meals. I suddenly remembered Dennys posting something about opening a new place soon – and went to his page and sure enough, he’d opened up Cuchara, in the San Luis district, just 11 days earlier. I’m just going to say, if you’re in Lima, go there. This is my kind of food. No fussiness or pretension, but still has all the little touches of doing something modern and vibrant. Love the space, it’s my kind of place, kind of hate that it’s in San Luis (which is apparently a slightly dicey ‘hood (more at night than during the day) except for a four block stretch of cevicherias – lots and lots of cevicherias (that I want to come back and sample one by one) – so take a cab to and from (more of an issue is that it’s just so far from most other things visitors do, but then, cabs are cheap). Interesting infused cocktails (aguaymanto chilcano for me), and only artisanal, small producer beers (Dennys sent me over a Nuevo Mundo Amber Ale, made in Surquillo, right in Lima – yum). We sat, we talked, I ate. Even better grilled octopus than at El Mercado the day before – a really cool take on the classic pulpo al olivo; a cross between a papa rellena and a potato skin with both huancaina and ocopa sauces; and a killer rocoto relleno with creamy potato salad. Basically a lunch spot – he’s open from 11:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon – he says that the neighborhood just isn’t one where people would come to for his kind of food in the evening. I’d be there for lunch every week if I was in town.

Given a combination of timing, and food overload, I decided to go lighter for dinner and just finish off my time in Lima with some sushi. I’ve heard excellent things about Ache (pronounced “ah-chey”, the Spanish letter “H”), along the same strip with ámaZ, Los Bachiche (Gaston Acurio’s Italian spot), and another that I don’t recall. Classic and modern sushi, and a few nikkei dishes. I ordered up a mixed sashimi plate, all excellent, a couple of pieces of uni and a couple of tobiko (I really wanted ikura, but none available in the market according to sushi chef Oscar), and they gave me a sample of a hanger steak one. I could see it being my neighborhood sushi joint! (Ah well, back to BA with salmon and cream cheese as the mainstay… some day, maybe….)



Nikkei – Ground Zero

2015.Aug.30 Sunday
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Maybe ground zero is the wrong term – it isn’t as if Mitsuharu Tsumura, or Micha, the chef at Maido, invented nikkei cuisine. It was around long before he was born. But there’s no question that he’s one of the stars of the modern nikkei movement (nikkei is the term for Peruvian – Japanese fusion […]

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Try IK, You Might Like IK

2015.Aug.28 Friday
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So I think I have this straight. There was a well known chef in Lima, Ivan Kisic, and he was opening a restaurant here in Miraflores about three years ago. He died shortly before opening night in a car crash. His family decided that in tribute to him, they’d continue with his plans for the […]

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2015.Aug.28 Friday
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You may recall a couple of years ago I had lunch with some Lima friends at ámaZ here in Miraflores, where I’m back for a three day food binge before returning to BA. (Like I really need more food. I foresee a whole lot of salad eating over the upcoming weeks.) I liked the food, […]

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Dining In in Trujillo

2015.Aug.27 Thursday
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Colombia and Ecuador behind us, it was time for a visit to Henry’s family in Trujillo. Things have come a long way since my first time nine years ago. (Here, here, here and here.) Bit by bit, Henry has been helping his family out (technically, it’s his property to begin with, inherited from his grandparents) […]

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Six “Cozies”

2015.Aug.24 Monday
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There’s a whole genre of “literature” that is referred to as “cozies”. Wikipedia defines it as: “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when […]

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Quito. The Movie.

2015.Aug.22 Saturday
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I’ve basically said what I had to say about Quito, I’m sure we’ll be back at some point. So, on to the movie.

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More Plates of Quito

2015.Aug.21 Friday
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Definitely more interesting food in Quito than we’d had in Medellin, a mix of traditional and modern. Surprising to both of us, Ecuadorians seem to be even less enamored of the idea of picante than then Colombians. We both expected the food to be more similar to Peruvian, and many of the dishes even have […]

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First Quito Plates

2015.Aug.18 Tuesday
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So, Colombia is behind us, and we’re on to just a few days in Quito, Ecuador. It wasn’t part of our original plan, but we added in a stop here because Henry had met a folklore dance group a couple of years ago at a big conference and workshop in Cordoba, and wanted to meet […]

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